A day after a CNN poll revealed that 61 percent of Americans oppose bailing out the Big Three automakers, executives of General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC appeared for a second consecutive day of hearings, Dec. 5, before the House Financial Services Committee. The executives testified before the Senate Banking Committee Dec. 4.
The members of the House committee, unwilling to approve taxpayer money to bail out the three, suggested alternatives, including a much smaller emergency transitional amount or a "protected restructuring" under government auspices, according to a Dec. 5 article in The Washington Post.
According to The Post article, in the hearings, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the committee chairman, said “a lot of mistakes were made," referring to what he described as poor decisions by the auto industry in the past. "The consequence of all those mistakes is that the country is to some extent held hostage.”
One among those mistakes particularly stands out: GM mocking global warming and stubbornly cranking out SUVs. Should Darwinism prevail: Adapt or die?
The “mistakes” continued even up until a couple of weeks ago. During their first unsuccessful appearance on Capitol Hill, the Big Three head honchos flew in on their corporate jets. In stark contrast, Richard Wagoner, chairman and CEO of General Motors, Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford, and Robert Nardelli, chairman and CEO of Chrysler, drove or carpooled hybrid or fuel-cell vehicles from Detroit to the December hearings.
On the same note, Chrysler's corporate Web site now touts the following sentence in large type, in the color--you guessed it--green: "It's not a bailout to keep us from failing. It's a loan to help us succeed."
All said and done, Congressional Democrats and the White House still couldn't reach a consensus on how to handle the urgent request for $34 billion in bridge loans—$7 billion for Chrysler, $9 billion for Ford and $18 billion for GM. Democrats and Republicans continued to disagree on where the money should come from, how much should be paid upfront and what kind of conditions to impose. And even though the news of the worst job losses in the U.S. in 30 years--533,000 in November--added urgency to the Big Three's appeal, it still was not good enough for Congress to reach a decision.
Now, I am not saying that the Big Three should not get any loans; given the job losses and the state of the economy, it's a no-brainer that something needs to be done to help the companies stay afloat. But should they get the money without any strings attached? I'm curious to know your thoughts, especially the auto glass repair and replacement folks out there, whose businesses could be directly/indirectly affected by this decision: What would you do with the Big Three? Would you give them the money unconditionally? Not give them a dime? Or give them a lesser amount with conditions, such as producing fuel-efficient cars and serious restructuring within the companies?
By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine